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Author Topic: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID  (Read 237 times)

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Offline Smoothie

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A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« on: June 28, 2020, 07:36:05 PM »
It’s been a long time since I wrote a ride report.  Thus I’m a little rusty, but for STO I will do my best.

I could blame this report on ST2Sam, who said I had to get off my duff and get out there, or Miles for electronically waving at me from a comfy STO digital park bench, or even my buddy Flip, who went on an overnight trip in Northern California with a bunch of BMW guys and it seemed to go okay.  If you define “OK” as breaking numerous NorCal speed laws and not coming back with a fatal contagious disease.

So…  I decided to take last Friday off and ride from our home in Seattle down to the Columbia Gorge (east of Portland).  I’ve always loved the scenery down there.  I was considering a day trip but my beautiful wife suggested that I spend the night and pointed out that I’m not 30 anymore.  Which is indeed true.

My riding companion in this case was a 2019 Speed Twin.  It’s a happy kitten of a bike, if the kitten is an adolescent lion cub.  With eighty footpounds of torque from 3,000 RPM to redline, it launches forward with authority in every single situation while making a delicious sound like an elf playing a tympani with sledgehammers.

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The entirety of my luggage here is a small backpack strapped to the seat with two RokStraps.  The bag which can be taken off the bike in seconds and carried wherever it needs to go.  Rather than bringing any warm clothing I wore an electric vest and called it good.


Let’s get the bummer picture out of the way, so we can move on to the good stuff.  I love me some Aprilia (and own a 2005 Tuono).   Aprilia makes stonking motorcycles and even has a MotoGP team (!).  Moto Guzzi had the California, the V7 III and the Griso in their lineup as recently as 2018, which were arguably the best motorcycles in their segments (but does not have a MotoGP team).

But mother company Piaggio is helpless when it comes to marketing these bikes and dealers have fallen by the wayside.  First Moto International in Seattle, and now Portland’s dealer which was an excellent shop.  I lay the blame directly on Piaggio Group, who have snatched failure from the jaws of victory again and again.


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If you look carefully you can see me in the shop window.

Anyone who wonders about sinister motives of corporations would do well to ponder the inept way that Piaggio markets their (excellent) products in this country.  There’s no skill there, no cunning.  Just because a corporation exists and its management and shareholders are making money doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be better operated by your hairdresser.


Friday, after coffee, I rode around the Oregon and Washington hills in the sunshine.  It was so beautiful that even a hack like me could take a nice pic or two.


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Mount Adams from Glenwood

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Columbia Gorge


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A happy guy


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Big mountain, twisty road, scenic canyon


At this tunnel, by some odd quirk of physics distances are not what one might think.  Oooops!  The Washington State Department of Transportation has never seemed like an organization with a sense of humor, so this must have been an accident.  The signs going the other way appear to be correct.

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And as always wherever you go, there is something to see.  There is an alternative universe where the STO headquarters has its very own suspension bridge, like this house does.  Named after Neal Ulen, the STO bridge is of course less oxidized, grander, and paved for crying out loud.  Because street tires.


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It is profoundly good for my psyche to get out in the world on two wheels.  Day to day, I forget.  With the cut and thrust of living daily life, the idea, the fact, that riding motorbikes around the country is as fabulous as it is slowly dies to an abstract thing.

In the past I remember feeling like this when planning the ride to World Superbikes at Laguna Seca.  It only happened once a year and the force of the memories would wane.  Is it really worth days on end of riding, staying in luxurious hotels every night and eating delicious restaurant meals with my friends just so we can watch a bunch of guys clad in loud leather outfits ride really fast in a circle?

Well, yes, actually it is.

And speaking of luxurious hotels, I stayed in two freakin’ quirky hotels:  Thursday night at McMenamin’s Edgefield and Friday night at the Hood River Hotel.  These are not five star establishments but they have more character than Steve Buscemi on a Brough Superior.


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It’s the work of Satin!


No trip to Hood River, Oregon is really complete without a stop at their Air and Auto Museum.  It’s an amazing place that looks forgettably anonymous from the outside but encloses four acres of old planes, cars, and motorbikes.  How about a 1938 Cord?  Or a Sopwith Camel?  Or a Whizzer?

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The original V12 “Hot Rod Lincoln”!!!



This is actually the art in my room at the Edgefield:  A flying pickup camper!

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It’s a sign of positivity to me that in Hood River on Friday night, there was a Black Lives Matter rally.  Could there be a whiter town in America?  But these people are pissed off like people all over the country are.  And rightfully so.  I’m not sure how we make it up to the brown people who have been marginalized and discriminated against in the US for so many years.  Not killing them for driving while Black would be a good start though.

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My wife was right about taking an overnight.  I’m getting old and riding all day is a lot more work than it was ten years ago.  In our thirties, Flip and I used to take day trips that lasted twelve or fourteen hours.  I once rode a Moto Guzzi from Markleeville, California to Seattle in one day—933 miles.  It’s a non-starter now, though, if for no other reason than I can’t be arsed to do it.

I remember when Ol’ Rocket sold his VFR, hung up his spurs and I wondered at the time why anyone would want to do that.  Now I’m getting more of an understanding.  Friday I rode about 200 miles.  It was perfect.  I was still tired at the end of the day but I enjoyed every single mile.  Saturday was about 260 miles, with the first 50 being the sublime Washington 142 up to Goldendale.



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Yakima River Canyon





COVID takeaways from this mini tour?

1.   It’s pretty easy to stay socially distanced on a motorbike.  On the bike, you’re wearing a big hard mask with a built-in sneeze guard and it takes Rossi-like skill to get within six feet of someone else.   Gas has been swipe and go for donkey's years, thus no human interaction is required.  Off the bike, wear a mask and stay the fuck away from other people like they have some highly contagious fatal disease.  That job's done.

2.   If you are otherwise responsible (mask, distancing), the most serious risk in terms of COVID exposure might be to get in an accident and have to go to the hospital.  In the hospital, of course, are people with COVID—so best avoided if you can.

3.   A bunch of tourist stuff is closed.  On the one hand, you can’t go see it.  On the other hand, there are WAY less tourists everywhere.

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4.   Both hotels were completely dialed in with sanitizer everywhere (although it seems very difficult to catch COVID from a surface) and face masks for all (an essential protection device that we should all be wearing).  I felt COMPLETELY safe.  Or at least, that anything that endangered my life was not COVID related.  For instance, you might think twice about that green hot sauce at Kickstand in Hood River.




Oh, and one more thing.  My son-in-law gave me this book.  The photography is ridiculous and I’ve learned a tremendous amount about vintage bikes.  Recommended!

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Online 1KPerDay

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2020, 07:38:06 PM »
Sharp lookin' bike.
My hovercraft is full of eels

Offline Smoothie

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A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2020, 07:45:59 PM »
1K, unfortunately I no longer have a 13 year old daughter to take with me.    You are wise and fortunate to have ridden with your girl!   :bigok:
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Online viffergyrl

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2020, 08:20:42 PM »
Welcome back, Smoothie. I have missed your colorful prose.
The world is a mess. It has always been a mess. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.  Joseph Campbell

Online flips21

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2020, 08:31:59 PM »
Hey Smoothie.  I am willing to meet you in Hood River later this summer if you are willing to be seen with a California traffic law breaking miscreant.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2020, 08:43:30 PM by flips21 »

Online st2sam

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2020, 08:44:15 PM »
  :inlove:
You still got it Smoothie.
Your choice of rides, your pictures, your way with words. :thumbsup:

Thanks for sharing.
She's a big girl, but boy can she dance.

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Offline Smoothie

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2020, 08:48:15 PM »
Flip, I'd love to make that happen!   Let's see if we can.

They won't know you are a Californian because you'll be wearing a mask.   ;)
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Online Skee

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2020, 09:33:55 PM »
What they said :bigok:
When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.    Henry Ford

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible,
but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.   Vincent van Gogh

Online Sock Muppet

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2020, 04:26:54 AM »
Bravo.

Online Vulcanbill

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2020, 06:27:24 AM »
 :clap: :clap: :clap:
If a person's primary concern is increasing freedom, they should prepare for a reduction in average lifespan.  ---  Misanthropist

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Offline Baxter

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2020, 12:44:03 PM »
Cool! Thanks for sharing!
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.  --Douglas Adams

Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2020, 03:28:53 PM »
Nice report!

It sounds like your bum is more out of shape than your prose   ;D


I'd love the chance to ride around the PNW again and visit my old haunts...
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Online miles

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2020, 06:54:10 PM »
I'd love the chance to ride around the PNW again and visit my old haunts...


Speaking of which, I owe you a visit report email.
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Offline Smoothie

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A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2020, 09:01:57 PM »
Nice report!

It sounds like your bum is more out of shape than your prose   ;D


I'd love the chance to ride around the PNW again and visit my old haunts...


Thanks, Colleen!

The PNW is still here.  Not as sexy as Europe, but waaaaaaaaay bigger.   ;)

It's not so much my bum that gets sore.  I just get tired.  You forget how old I am.   ;)

But don't get me wrong.   I'll be riding motorcycles until it's past the time when I should.   :bigok:
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Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2020, 10:56:03 AM »
The PNW is still here.  Not as sexy as Europe, but waaaaaaaaay bigger.   ;)

So - you're saying that the PNW has a great personality?  :lol:
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Offline Smoothie

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Re: A Quick Trip in the Days of COVID
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2020, 12:32:26 PM »
Exactly.   

More of a “friend” situation if you will.    ;)
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